The pandemic has caused us, like others, to up our TV screen time. So now, instead of watching the PBS Newshour only on Fridays, mainly to hear Brooks’ and Shields’ latest wisdom, we tune in every night, even sometimes for the half-hour Weekend edition. Then, we’re finding our way to our Apple TV clicker way more than in the good, old pre-Covid days. Mainly we go to Netflix. First there was Outlanders—who can resist the steamy romance of Jamie and Clare?—then Unorthodox, and now we’re a third the way through Season 2 of Anne with an E, the newish CBC-Netflix screen version of Anne of Green Gables.
W. T. Stace in his writing about mysticism offers a helpful definition. Mysticism, says he, is “first-person religion.” As I wrote the, uh, first word in the last sentence, my fingers played a trick on me as they frequently do and capitalized the first TWO letters. The result: MYsticism. Well, that’s the point. Sometimes you just have to go there yourself. Tom Paine in his Age of Reason takes this concept a step further. Revelation, he writes, is only for the person who received it and mere hearsay for everyone else. (No quotation marks here since I’m quoting from memory, but I’m sure the wording is at least 90% accurate.)
A walk a day keeps the doctor away.
Or so we hope during this new year of the plague. In any case, Cedar, my wife, and I schedule in a walk every day. It usually lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, although once a pressing need—I can say no more!—caused us to return home after a mere seven minutes. Yesterday in fact, Mother’s Day Sunday, we stayed out a whole 80 minutes, 20 to be sure while standing at a safe distance from one of Cedar’s Earthsong friends, whose house we were passing, to discuss and solve affairs domestic and international. One of Boulder’s many benefits is that, as a small city of 110,000, it’s hard to go anyway, even in these days of Safer at Home, without meeting someone you know.
The Twelve-Step slogan “One Day at a Time” has taken on new meaning for me during the pandemic. Briefly, I have begun to do a number of the same things every day. I don’t mean the regular daily things like meals, showers, biology breaks, etc. I still do those, of course. Life requires most of them. No. I mean things like daily walks of 30 minutes to an hour with Cedar, my wife. Today’s, for example, lasted 50 minutes. We take turns devising our itineraries and compete with each other not to repeat prior routes.
By Reynold Ruslan Feldman (April 2020)
(sung to the tune of “Matchmaker”)
MASKMAKER, MASKMAKER, MAKE ME A MASK.
NO NEED TO ASK—JUST MAKE ME A MASK.
MASKMAKER, MASKMAKER, MAKE ME A MASK.
PLEASE MAKE ME A PERFECT MASK.
The Child to Be Born
In the Name of ADA, the Child to be born is the child of East and West, Psyche and Somos, Night and Day. The first stirrings of Life are already there. East is forgetting itself and becoming West. West is forgetting itself and becoming East. East is abandoning tradition in the face of progress. West is abandoning progress in the face of tradition. In the East old Western techniques are new. In the West old Eastern techniques are new. Yet in both worlds there is no balance. In the one, the poverty of body mocks the richness of spirit. In the other, the poverty of spirit mocks the richness of body. All nations are haves; all nations are have-nots. There is no balance, for the World is awaiting the Balancer.
Where Is Humanity Now?
Lost in the wilderness of Mind and Heart, deep in the desolation brought about by its own unerring cleverness. Humanity is at an end. The Old Human Being, dominated by heart and mind, full of its own cleverness, is finished. There is nothing left. The inner pollution has become outer pollution. The inner selfishness has become self-centered nationalism. The inner anger has become war. There is no way out but death. Only death can lead to new life.
They say all good things come in threes. Given the widespread symmetry in nature, the same probably holds true for all bad things too. Right now, we are living through three pandemics. The first two are pretty obvious: the global Covid-19 epidemic and the related universal financial crisis. Though less newsworthy, the third, once mentioned, will seem equally obvious: the worldwide abuse and misuse of power, whether personal, professional, status, collective, or institutional. From localized domestic abuse through sex trafficking to abuses by people in authority (e.g., some Catholic priests and sports coaches) to flourishing authoritarian governments.
In my last years of teaching at the university, I created a new course called The Literature of Wisdom—A Cross-Cultural Exploration, which I then taught 12 times to some 300 students. The first unit was Proverbial Wisdom. In it we studied maxims and saws from a diversity of countries, East and West, North and South. We were also required to create a proverb of our own. I say “we” because I considered all of us, myself included, as both teachers and students. So, I had to do all the work the official students did, even as they shared their wisdom with the rest of us. One of my proverbs went, “You can’t outrun the Devil, only outwait him.”
This week we’ll begin a series of blogs based on an unpublished book I wrote in 1972 while teaching college courses on U.S. military bases in then West Germany. The book is written in the prophetic style of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (1923) so it will be quite different from any of my weekly blog essays of the last eight months. I hope you enjoy it. RRF